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Race and Christianity in America

By: Rebecca Tinsley “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?” is the greatest blues line of all time, according to the African American intellectual, Stanley Crouch. For the rapper, Tupak Shakur, Jesus was, “Somebody that hurt like we hurt, that understands where we’re coming from.” James Cone’s “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” explains the parallels between Jesus, the innocent victim of mob hysteria in the Roman Empire’s province of Judea, and almost five thousand African Americans who were lynched, mostly between 1880 and 1940. In both cases, Cone suggests, the point was not the punishment or death of the supposed offender, but a warning to those considering sedition against the powers that…


Iraq, and the warning from Jewish history

Hakham Ezra Dangoor, chief rabbi of Baghdad, pictured with his family in 1910. (Jewish News) What do these three news items have in common? 1) The beautiful synagogue in Akra in Iraqi Kurdistan is crumbling to the point of collapse, as Iraq’s famous Jewish families (Sassoon, Saatchi, Gubbay, etc.) are written out of Iraqi history. 2) Thirty six Iraqi Christian churches were destroyed by Islamic State in 2014, but thousands of Christians cannot return from internal exile. Their homes are now occupied by Muslim Arabs, and their former communities are controlled by opposing Arab and Kurdish militias who each claim territory in the plain of Nineveh. 3) August 3rd marks the fourth anniversary of Islamic…


The lingering legacy of Ebola in Sierra Leone

As the deadly disease appears in Congo, Sierra Leone is still counting the cost of its 2014 epidemic. Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2015. Image: Simon Davis/DFID, CC BY 2.0. During the day, the streets of the Kissi district of eastern Freetown are perpetually crowded with pedestrians, as if a concert or soccer game has just finished. On either side of the road, in every available space, there are makeshift stalls selling mangos, grilled chicken feet, SIM cards, and second-hand clothes. There is a ceaseless soundtrack of trucks, animals, people and radios. The air is heavy with pollution from ancient taxis, and rubbish is heaped in rancid piles. It is hard to imagine these streets empty and silent….


Our selective outrage about Gaza

Events in Israel tend to mobilise otherwise dormant keyboard warriors. This week, social media has heaved with indignation at the plight of Palestinian protesters. Yet, the same critics of the State of Israel are strangely silent about the slaughter of far greater numbers of people in places like Sudan. Could it be that the Darfuris are the wrong type of Muslims? Or, like European Jewry in the 1930s, is the Sudanese cause simply less fashionable than the Palestinian one? When I give talks about our work with Sudanese refugees, someone invariably asks what I’m doing about “all the dead Palestinian children.” The fact that a far higher proportion of children have been killed by the…


Catholics in the firing line in Cameroon, as Mass Exodus continues

  Archbishop Samuel Kleda By: Rebecca Tinsley As Cameroon marks its national day on 20 May, violence continues to escalate, literally putting Catholics in the firing line. Last week, the president of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Samuel Kleda, escaped what local media describes as an assassination attempt. Shots were fired at his residence after he criticised Cameroon’s leader, Paul Biya, for his failure to broker genuine dialogue between the country’s rival Anglophone groups and the Francophone-dominated government. The attack comes after two years of increasing conflict which has prompted an estimated 160,000 English-speaking Cameroonians to flee to neighbouring Nigeria for safety, according to the UN. There are multiple verifiable reports that Cameroonian security forces have…



All Christians are brothers, and all Muslims are brothers – except when their skin is black

How much empathy do Christians feel for their brothers and sisters in Africa? Why do Muslims lose so little sleep over the elimination of their co-religionists in Darfur? South Sudan refugee camp, 2011. Maximilian Norz/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.Judging by the millions protesting against president Trump’s policies on behalf of the vulnerable and voiceless, empathy is alive and well. Or is it? Trump’s recent immigration ban exempts Christians from Muslim-majority countries, recognizing their status as the world’s most persecuted faith. But how much empathy do Christians feel for their brothers and sisters in Africa? And why do Muslims who care about the plight of the Palestinians lose so little sleep over the systematic elimination of their black…

Why is Obama Silent About Meriam?

Last week a woman gave birth while chained to a prison wall in Sudan. But as soon as baby Maya is weaned, her mother will hang for the crime of ‘apostasy’. Meriam Ibrahim considers herself a Christian. Although her father was a Muslim, he abandoned her Christian mother when Meriam was a child. The twenty-seven-year-old Meriam compounded her ‘crime’ by marrying a Christian, a US citizen, and now she faces death. The head of the Anglican Church, Justin Welby, Hillary Clinton and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, have condemned Meriam’s sentence. But President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are silent . Their failure to join the global chorus of outrage at Sudan’s warped interpretation…


Rebecca believes it isn't enough to be informed about genocide - we need to support the resilient and resourceful survivors of genocide who reject the label 'victim.' That's why she founded Network for Africa, a registered charity in the USA and UK. Please click here to learn about Network for Africa's practical projects offering a helping hand to survivors of the Rwandan genocide, and survivors of the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda. Thank you.

Featured Articles

Is reconciliation possible in South Sudan?

If impunity is the cost of peace, how can societies recover from violent conflict? A South Sudanese man holding a Heckler and Koch G3 rifle. Credit: Steve Evans/Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons. When diplomats met in Vienna at the end of October to try to break the ongoing stalemate in Syria, they were divided on whether President Assad should stay in power. Garnering less attention but tackling equally unpalatable choices, the African Union has finally published its report on the civil war in South Sudan. In both cases, the victims of conflict will probably be denied the justice they deserve, and it’s doubtful whether sufficient political will exists to deliver the truth-telling mechanisms that are necessary…


America’s not so exceptional foreign policy

What can explain the myopia of US policy towards Sudan, when it knows Sudan has been facilitating ISIS in Libya, Syria and Iraq, and other terror groups? Albert Gonzalez Farran/Demotix. All rights reserved. The US Special Envoy, Donald Booth, will be given a warm welcome when he visits Sudan at the end of July. Khartoum’s hard-line Islamist regime anticipates the normalisation of relations with America, and the end of sanctions imposed by Bill Clinton in 1997, following Sudan’s role in bombing US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Five years ago Sudan’s President, Omar Bashir, was indicted for the crime of genocide against his own citizens in Darfur. However, Washington justifies this diplomatic thaw by claiming Sudan…


Africa’s Angry Young Men

No school, no job, no future. Why so many of Africa’s young men choose militias The Central African Republic (CAR) is a poor, arid, landlocked country the size of Texas. According to the United Nations, the former French colony is now experiencing the world’s largest forgotten humanitarian crisis. In March 2013, a mainly Muslim rebel group overthrew the corrupt regime of President François Bozizé. In response, a Christian militia took revenge on the country’s Muslim minority with a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing. Ninety-nine percent of Muslims in the capital, Bangui, are dead or have left, and one quarter of the country’s entire population have fled their homes. Despite the religious make-up of the warring parties, refugees who have sought…


When does a refugee camp become a permanent home?

REBECCA TINSLEY 20 May 2015 Encamped refugees are often portrayed on our TV screens as objects of pity with deadpan expressions. Time to ask what they think and feel. Love in a hard place: on St Valentine’s evening 2013, the families of Aya and Mohammed gathered in a tiny building in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, housing an estimated 90,000 refugees who fled Syria, and agreed on their engagement. Flickr / Oxfam International. Some rights reserved. Across the globe 10m people are living in refugee camps. Many, like the Syrians in Jordan and Turkey, arrived recently. Others, like the Palestinians in Lebanon or Burma’s ethnic minorities in Thailand, have been there for decades. At what stage do people realise their port-in-a-storm…